Interview: Lonely The Brave On New Album ‘What We Do To Feel’

Lonely The Brave have just released their brand new album ‘What We Do To Feel’, and it is up there with their most ambitious and atmospherically stunning pieces of work to date.

Lonely The Brave

Following on from 2021’s ‘The Hope List’, a record that served as a bridge between chapters for the band, it feels like the quintet have found their true footing once more. That comes by pushing everything you previously thought you knew about Lonely The Brave into places you never imagined them to tread. Incorporating spacey synths, dramatic strings and plenty of bubbling tension into their sprawling yet intimate playbook, the result is extraordinary.

An album that focuses on the things that make us glisten to the warmth that this life provides, it’s a reminder to do what makes you feel incredible, hold on to those who bring out the best in you and not waste a second on something that doesn’t remind you how special every day can be.

To delve deeper into the inner workings of how such an inspirational record came to be, we had a little chat with vocalist Jack Bennett and guitarist Mark Trotter…

ROCK SOUND: What does it mean to have an album like ‘What We Do To Feel’ out in the world now?

MARK TROTTER: “Well, it’s a release. It’s a release in the sense that it is out now. We’ve pulled the covers off, and we can get on with it. That’s the main thing. We can get out there now, play these songs to people and see what they think. I’ve said this before that we don’t write for anyone else but us, but it is still exciting to see everybody’s reaction to what we have made. There’s a whole new wave of emotions that comes with that. Apprehension, nerves, joy, everything. It’s exciting, and it feels good.”

JACK BENNETT: “It’s funny because I saw somebody had shared one of the songs from the album and they were in Jakarta. It’s weird because I noticed they did it when it wasn’t even out on our side of the world yet. That’s pretty amazing, though, isn’t it? We know that different people will take different things from different songs, and I feel like the record is a bit of a grower. Therefore, I hope that means it will stand up longer. All the albums I like from any time have always been growers. I’ve never liked my favourite albums from the start. The way the band writes stuff and how we put it together makes it impossible for me to know what will resonate.”

MARK: “Yeah, I’m absolutely with Jack there. You can’t work out what people are going to resonate with simply because you’re not them. All you can do is put it out there. The main thing for me is that someone is taking something from that, and that is the most powerful thing about music. You can literally be anywhere in the world, and somebody could resonate with what you are doing. Regardless of language or space, it’s still this special thing. Through that music and through that feeling, you are never truly alone. Someone else is experiencing something that you have, and that’s incredibly special.”

RS: In many ways, what you have created with this record is more of an atmosphere. Something to get lost within. It’s amazing for you to have done that despite never actually being in the studio as a whole band creating this. It must be quite a relief and validating to know that from a different way of doing things, you were able to get such a result…

MARK: “A really good friend of mine gave the greatest compliment on the album when they said they believe it is our most mature record. That’s not in the sense of us being old. It’s more in the sense that it’s not designed just to rip your face off. That’s not who we are as people or what we aspire to listen to. This album is a reflection on who we are and who we want to be. My favourite records are the ones that still, after ten or 20 years, you still find things and bits that you never noticed before. If we can do that, then we will be really happy.”

JACK: “I really like the latest Sam Fender record, but at the time when it was released, I thought it was good. However, the more I listened to it, the more I realised just how much better it was than I first thought. There’s loads more stuff going on than you first think, in the production, the lyrics, and everything. I will listen to that now and know those songs will not be dated. To have any songs on this album not date in the same way in a world where songs get played and then moved on from would be amazing. I feel this is an album in a non-album-based world.”

RS: Everybody in the band has been doing their own thing over the last few years. The band hasn’t always been front and centre, from other careers to starting families to building businesses. All the different experiences and feelings conjured from those other things have allowed your time with the band to be even more potent and personal…

MARK: “The past few years have intensified this, but all the rules are out the window at this point. That’s always been our way. It’s all bollocks, after all; you should always be playing and doing whatever feels right. There are times on this record where I felt mental for playing something, but that’s the point. That’s what my body is telling me to do and what my ear wants to hear, so that’s what I’m going to do. There was no conscious effort to say what we could and couldn’t do. Fuck that, do whatever feels right. You end up with something that is honest and truthful.”

JACK: “I’ve found that there are people who are still finding out what I sound like as a human and what my voice is able to do. That feels pretty mad to me. Someone wrote a comment wondering if something I had sung had been done by somebody else, so it wasn’t even a negative thing. It shows me that in my approach to this record, I haven’t gone, ‘Alright, this is my level. These are big notes, and I’m just going to go for that. There are bits where there are parts that aren’t hard to sing at all and others that are really hard to sing. It just shows that everybody was prepared to bring everything to the table. This mad mash of things that shouldn’t conventionally work, but in the end, it’s the things that make me want to listen to this.”

RS: What are the things that stick out for you from the moments you spent in the studio bringing these ideas to life? Considering for your parts, Mark, it was just you and Jack in the studio over a weekend trying to get everything down whilst you could. What was that experience like?

MARK: “Recording, or even just picking up a guitar, is my happy place. That is where I am almost myself, and I remember that time recording was like that. It was great fun. Just me and Jack laughing our arses off and making stupid sounds in the studio and having a good time doing it. Moving forwards, I don’t care, or I never really have cared, what people think of my guitar playing or how I approach music. I have no other way of doing it, and I won’t bend to anybody else’s way of doing things. More so, this record offered the clarity of not having to do anything for anybody else. A new vision of how things should be or how you expect things to be. I don’t prescribe to that in terms of music, and creating this time around allowed that feeling to be cemented. If it feels right, do it, and that will never change. Though the thing is, we have been together for so long, we don’t second guess each other. We know where to leave the spaces for things to grow and exist. I see it and can visualise it. Being able to do that whilst enjoying making it happen with my mates is what this is all about.”

RS: That’s ultimately what this record represents. ‘What We Do To Feel’ is about the things that we do to make our time here what it is. You all found your own way towards that as a title and a sentiment, but now you’re in a position where you are able to see other people find themselves in what that means. What has it been like watching that come to fruition?

JACK: “To be honest, we’re still waiting for the full impact of that. The songs we put out in the lead-up were more diverse, but they were easier to listen to and digest than some of the other songs on here. Some are more atmospheric than others, where they are more emotional. Whatever reaction we get will be from the people who sit there and listen to it from front to back. One song only gives you one thing, whilst the whole piece gives you everything. All I can speak on is friends who have come back to me after listening to it and said, ‘Wow, I wasn’t expecting this’, which is usually the key thing I resonate with on my favourite albums. When we worked with the string quartet, I told them to play harder. They said it would sound a bit screechy, but I asked them to do it again and go as mad as possible. They sat there and said, ‘We don’t normally do this’, but it was something made so naturally and created something totally different.”

RS: The joy of the unexpected is what takes precedence here. It’s why you want to come back and why you want to keep on making music. Keeping people on their toes and pushing the boundaries of what Lonely The Brave can be. That’s what this is all about, and that should never change…

MARK: “The whole point of making music in the first place is that release—the building of community. I’m incredibly comfortable with my contribution to our project, and I feel very lucky and satisfied that we get to keep on doing it. In the past, being in a band used to feel like the floor tiles falling away beneath you and you having to hold on. Looking at album sales and numbers and all of that stuff. But the floor doesn’t fall away for me anymore, because all those things feel irrelevant to how we approach music. My enjoyment of music comes from spending time with my friends, being creative and doing what feels right. How lucky am I to do that? Then people coming and enjoying that with me is absolutely amazing. I want to carry on like that and enjoy it because we didn’t enjoy it for a really long time. To be in a position where we can enjoy it is really special.”

‘What We Do To Feel’ is out now.

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